Today, a federal appeals court judge in California rebuked the Trump administration for its zealous deportation policy and for “ripping apart a family.” Judge Stephen Reinhardt of the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals found that he had no power to stop the removal of Andres Magana Ortiz, but nevertheless took the time to write a short opinion blasting his deportation as “inhumane.”
“We are unable to prevent Magana Ortiz’s removal, yet it is contrary to the values of this nation and its legal system,” Reinhardt wrote in a six-page concurring opinion. “Indeed, the government’s decision to remove Magana Ortiz diminishes not only our country but our courts, which are supposedly dedicated to the pursuit of justice…I concur as a judge, but as a citizen I do not.”
As Reinhardt detailed in his opinion, Magana Ortiz came to the United States from Mexico 28 years ago, built a family and a career, and paid his taxes. His wife and three children are American citizens. His only legal transgressions were two DUIs, the last one 14 years ago. “[E]ven the government conceded during the immigration proceedings that there was no question as to Magana Ortiz’s good moral character,” Reinhardt noted. Nonetheless, in March the government decided to deny Magana Ortiz’s application for a stay of removal while he applied for legal residency status, a process that is still underway, and moved to deport him to Mexico.
Reinhardt took particular aim at the fact, demonstrated repeatedly in the first months of Donald Trump’s presidency, that the administration’s immigration crackdown is not only targeting violent criminals. “President Trump has claimed that his immigration policies would target the ‘bad hombres,'” he wrote. “The government’s decision to remove Magana Ortiz shows that even the ‘good hombres’ are not safe. Magana Ortiz is by all accounts a pillar of his community and a devoted father and husband. It is difficult to see how the government’s decision to expel him is consistent with the President’s promise of an immigration system with ‘a lot of heart.’ I find no such compassion in the government’s choice to deport Magana Ortiz.”